Gabriel (archangel)

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St. Gabriel is an archangel, one of three angels known by name from Sacred Scripture. The other two archangels known by name in the Bible are St. Michael and St. Raphael. St. Raphael is known by name only in the Book of Tobit in the Old Testament of the Bible in the Septuagint since the 1st century B.C. and in the Vulgate. Martin Luther removed the Book of Tobit from the Old Testament in the 16th century and placed it in the Apocrypha. The name of Raphael is not found in the canon of the Protestant Bible. The feast days of these three archangels in the Catholic Church were originally celebrated separately, but have been combined on September 29 as the Feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels. In the Orthodox Church the Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and the Other Bodiless Powers is commemorated on November 8.

St. Gabriel's name in Hebrew: "God is my strength" גַּבְרִיאֵל, Modern Gavri'el Tiberian Gaḇrîʼēl; Arabic: جبريل, Jibrīl or جبرائيل Jibrāʾīl. Gabriel's name in Latin: "Fortitudo Dei".

Only four named appearances of Gabriel are recorded, and possibly five additional appearances, given the context, totalling nine:

  • Daniel 8. "Gabriel make this man understand the vision." He explains the vision of the horned ram as portending the destruction of the Persian Empire by the Macedonian Alexander the Great, after whose death the kingdom will be divided up among his generals, from one of whom will spring Antiochus Epiphanes.
  • Daniel 9. After Daniel had prayed for Israel, "the man Gabriel... flying swiftly touched me" and he revealed to him the mysterious prophecy of the "seventy weeks" of years.
  • Daniel 10. It is not clear if the angel is Gabriel, or not, but at any rate we may apply to him the description in verses 4–8.
    On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, that is, the Tigris, I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, a man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with gold of Uphaz. His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the noise of a multitude. And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision, but a great trembling fell upon them, and they fled to hide themselves. So I was left alone and saw this great vision, and no strength was left in me; my radiant appearance was fearfully changed, and I retained no strength.
  • Luke 1:8-20. Gabriel foretells to Zachary the birth of the Precursor, and renders him mute because he does not believe his words.
  • Luke 1:26-38. Gabriel foretells to Mary the birth of the Saviour.
  • Matthew 1:18-25. Although Gabriel is not named, it is not impossible that he is the angel who appears to Joseph in a dream and tells him that the child conceived in Mary is of the Holy Spirit.
  • Matthew 2:13. Although Gabriel is not named, it is not impossible that he is the angel who appears to Joseph in a dream and tells him to flee with the child and his mother into Egypt.
  • Matthew 2:19-20. Although Gabriel is not named, it is not impossible that he is the angel who appears to Joseph in a dream and tells him to rise and go into the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life were dead.
  • Matthew 28:1-7. The unnamed angel whose appearance is like lightning, in snow-white raiment, who rolls back the stone and sits on it, so fearsome that the guards tremble and become like dead men, is like the angel who similarly appeared to Daniel (10:4-9). He too announces news, to the women who come to the tomb.

Of the seven "archangels" which appear in the angelology of post-Exilic Judaism, only three, Gabriel, Michael and Raphael, are mentioned in the canonical Scriptures of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The others, according to the apocryphal Book of Enoch (chap. xxi) are Uriel, Raguel, Sariel, and Jerahmeel.

The Seven Spirits are mentioned without name in the Book of Revelation 1:4
"Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne."
John tells us he saw seven angels with seven trumpets who sounded, seven angels with seven plagues who poured them, and testifies that one of the seven showed him the Bride, the Wife of the Lamb, the holy city Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.


O Blessed Archangel Gabriel,
we beseech thee,
do thou intercede for us at the throne of divine Mercy in our present necessities,
that as thou didst announce to Mary the mystery of the Incarnation,
so through thy prayers and patronage in heaven
we may obtain the benefits of the same,
and sing the praise of God forever in the land of the living.

See Apocrypha


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